29 PowerPoint Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

Go to the eLearningArt blog, to get a free eBook of all 29 expert PowerPoint tips + additional bonus tips. You can also get some free PowerPoint images, graphics, and templates.

PowerPoint is an extremely powerful tool when used correctly. But when you’re new to it, it can feel like it’s just blank screens and bullet points. It can take years (or decades) to fully master it.

But I decided to save you some time…

I asked the world’s leading PowerPoint experts the following question:

What’s your single best PowerPoint tip, trick, or hack?

Below you’ll see responses from some amazing PowerPoint gurus, including top authors, speakers, instructors, bloggers, and even a handful of PowerPoint MVPs and Microsoft employees!

Here’s a two-minute video that summarizes all 29 PowerPoint tips:

Enjoy the full tutorials by scrolling below or jump to these sections:

Summary | Presentation Approach | Design | Shortcuts | Delivery | Setup | Beyond Presentations

PowerPoint Presentation Approach Tips
  1. Use the Tell ‘n Show method: a headline with a single point and media to support it

To get your audience to understand and remember what you say, use the Tell ‘n’ Show(SM) method.

Use the slide title to tell your point–what you want them to remember. For example, write “3rd quarter sales rose 5% over last year” instead of just “3rd quarter sales.”

Then use the rest of the slide to show your point with an image, animation, graph, or diagram.

Research has shown the students who see slides done like this do better on tests and similarly, your audience will “get” your point more quickly and easily. They’ll be more engaged, too.

Ellen Finkelstein is the President & Owner of Ellen Finkelstein, Inc. She is one of only 12 Microsoft designated PowerPoint MVPs in the United States and is the author of one of the most popular blogs on the web.

  1. Don’t open PPT until you have a clear message

Don’t launch PowerPoint until you have a clear message. Many people launch PowerPoint, think what they want to present, add slides, then think again, and add slides again.

To compare with an analogy, they are on a fun journey, driving their car, stopping wherever they want, and then driving to wherever they fancy. It’s good to have an amazing journey–but a journey without a destination will get you nowhere.

Continuing this analogy, a “clear message” is the destination where you want to go, and you want to take your audience along with you. So, make sure you have a message before you begin creating your slides.

Geetesh Bajaj is the Owner of Indezine.com. He is a PowerPoint MVP and the author of the Indezine blog, one of the most visited PowerPoint and presentation websites.

  1. Start with the end-scenario in mind

As a designer, I recommend you think more about the end scenario than the beginning.

Practical considerations – is this a printout, email attachment, onscreen presentation, interactive discussion tool or a combination of those? Where will it be seen – in a stadium, boardroom, café, at their desk?

Then consider the conceptual considerations – who is your audience and what do they currently think about your topic? What would you like to change in that thinking? Based on what you know about them, how can you change that thinking?

Write those things down, then build your presentation with that at the forefront.

Tom Howell is the Agency Director at Synapsis Creative. He was recently designated a PowerPoint MVP by Microsoft. His presentation blog is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their presentation design.

  1. Tease the audience by revealing info in parts

Do you struggle to hold your participant’s attention – especially when your training topic is dull and boring?

There’s a secret technique I use that works like a charm every time. It is…

“Tease your audience by revealing your information in parts”

Let me give you an example…

Want to present a Framework?

Present just the skeletal structure first. Explain the context. Then reveal the first step. Explain.

Then reveal the next step and so on.

Your audience can’t take their eyes off, till you finish your explanation.

Why does this work so well?

Studies have shown that as humans – we experience ‘tension’ when we leave things incomplete.

We feel subconsciously compelled to pay attention to the task till we see it finished. It’s called the ‘Zeigarnik effect’.

Try it in your next presentation. All you need is to apply a simple custom animation to your visuals – to reveal information in stages.

Ramgopal is the Director and Co-Owner of PrezoTraining. He also runs a popular YouTube Channel focusing on PowerPoint.

  1. Don’t open PowerPoint first. Instead, sketch on a notepad

The first step on PowerPoint is…don’t open PowerPoint.

Sketch out your presentation on a notepad (regular or digital) and plan the whole thing.

Then rewrite, numbering and ordering your thoughts. That’s your slide order.

Doug Thomas is a Video and Webinar Creator at Microsoft. He has created and appeared in over 250 videos at office.com.

PowerPoint Design Tips
  1. Use transparent overlays on images for text contrast

My favorite trick to do in PowerPoint is to create transparent overlays over slides, videos, photographs in PowerPoint!

First, you create a rectangle to cover up the slide > Then you set it to a solid color or a gradient > You right click, set the transparency of each color to around 20% or any value you like depending on the project > and there you have it!

You can dim photos, create duo-tone overlays, darken, brighten, add exposure, add a vignette or do pretty much anything regarding colors with this type of object!

The best part is – you can freely copy it between slides or even separate PowerPoints! Awesome to know about and use 

Andrzej Pach is an Online Instructor for Udemy & Skillshare. He also hosts one of the most popular YouTube channels to focus on PowerPoint with over 2 million views and 19,000 subscribers.

  1. Go big with visuals. Bleed photos and videos to the edge

Go big with your visuals.

My top tip to presentation designers of all levels is a simple, elegant, and often overlooked technique: bleed your inserted photographs and videos all the way to the edges.

Insert your image. Scale (don’t stretch!) and crop appropriately. If next is necessary, set it in a semi-transparent shape with sufficient contrast against the text color.

Think about some of the best presentations you’ve ever seen. Think also about your favorite movies and TV shows. Their images take up all available screen space. Yours can too.

Tony Ramos is the Director of the Presentation Guild and the Owner of TonyRamos.com. He was the first blogger on the internet to cover PowerPoint topics. Tony is an expert designer and producer of PowerPoint presentations and proposal graphics.

  1. Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tools

Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tools.

Bethany Auck is the Founder and Creative Director of SlideRabbit. As a presentation and communication specialist, she helps clients build high-quality presentations, from basic slide design to complex animations and infographics.

  1. Structure clean layouts by using a grid system on slide masters

Keep your layouts clean and well-structured by implementing a grid system with guides on the pasteboard of your master slide.

Stephy Lewis is a Senior Designer for Aerotek and a Director of the Presentation Guild. She is a top visual designer of presentations and websites.

  1. Find a beautiful, fresh font pair. One for headers and one for body

When I create PowerPoint tutorials on YouTube I am always thinking about techniques that would be simple to implement and yet would have the biggest positive impact.

So, if you have 2 minutes to transform your presentation from good to awesome, I would suggest looking at your fonts.

Find a beautiful, fresh looking font pair (one font for the headers and one for the body) and you can instantly change how your presentation feels and looks like.

I am planning to do a video soon on this topic, so please visit my YouTube channel soon, if you are interested in awesome font pairs for your ppt  Good luck everyone!

One Skill (aka Kasparas Tolkusinas) is the CEO of One Skill PowerPoint Tutorials. He hosts one of the most popular PowerPoint YouTube channels, with over one million views and 14,000+ subscribers.

  1. Create an arrow with broken SmartArt

I have an easy favorite that I often use. You know the arrow type that looks like a Nike Swoosh logo? The ones that start at a point then become thicker as they softly curve up or down? I have an easy hack that uses broken SmartArt to create such an arrow.

Of course, if you have the newest version of PowerPoint (2016/Office 365), you can insert this arrow style as an icon, but it’s not easily editable (other than to recolor). Do this instead: 1) Insert > SmartArt > Process > Upward Arrow (or Descending Process) | 2) Ungroup | 3) Ungroup again | 4) Delete all extra shapes and text boxes, leaving only the arrow.

You’re left with an adjustable arrow that allows you to use the yellow handles to change the swoosh width and arrow head size. Rotate, Flip Vertical, Flip Horizontal, or resize to further customize.

Sandra Johnson is the Owner and Chief Presentation Officer at Presentation Wiz and is Vice President of the Presentation Guild. She has also been designated only 1 of 12 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States.

PowerPoint Shortcuts, Tricks, and Hacks
  1. Power-crop photos with SmartArt

The favorite hack is Power Cropping a bunch of photos in seconds.

(1) In PowerPoint select a bunch of odd sized (or shaped) photos
(2) Navigate to the Picture Tools Format Tab
(3) Open the Picture Layout drop down
(4) Select a SmartArt layout (Bending Picture Semi-Transparent Text is my favorite)
(5) CTRL+SHIFT+G to ungroup the graphic twice.

It’s a great little PowerPoint hack that not a lot of people know about.

Taylor Croonquist is the Co-Founder of NutsAndBoltsSpeedTraining.com. He is the guru of time-saving PowerPoint tips. If you want to be blown away by how fast someone can whip a PPT into shape, check out his blog or videos.

  1. Use Ctrl + arrow keys to nudge objects on the screen

Here’s a quick and easy one I share in my PowerPoint for eLearning 101 classes:

Want to move something just a smidge using the arrow keys? You may notice that it’s hard to get to just the right spot using the arrow keys.

Try holding down the [Control] key with the arrow keys and watch as your slide objects move by just a pixel at a time.

AJ Walther is the Chief Creative Officer at IconLogic. She is also the instructor for several PowerPoint courses: PowerPoint for eLearning 101 and 201, and the author of 2 PowerPoint books.

  1. Use SmartArt to break bullet points into text boxes

Use SmartArt as a tool to eliminate bullet points and “chunk” your information out visually.

Select your text box of bullet points and either right-click or choose from the Home tab “Convert to SmartArt.” Select a SmartArt graphic that contains horizontal boxes. Select the newly created SmartArt containing your text, right-click and ungroup it twice, giving you text in rectangles.

Now, delete any extraneous SmartArt items (i.e. arrows) and format the boxes however you like. Voila, you have magically turned a page of bullet points into visual chunks—much easier to read!

Nolan Haims is the Principal of Nolan Haims Creative. He leads a team of visual design professionals dedicated to all types of visual communication. Nolan blogs at Present Your Story and hosts the popular Presentation Podcast.

  1. Create “smokey letters” with PPT’s new Morph transition

Magic Smoky Letters!

I recently went on a crazy experimentation spree (channeling my inner mad scientist!) with the Morph transition and discovered this bizarre but very cool “smoky letters” trick.

Let’s say, for instance, that you want the word TEXT to come out as smoke from a chimney (or fireplace, tailpipe, cigar, teapot, magic lamp, etc.).  You first put a picture of the chimney on your slide.  Next, you create smoke “seeds” by inserting a rectangle and editing one of the points (Format – Shape – Edit Points) – then making 4 copies of this rectangle (one for each letter in TEXT).  Make these “seeds” tiny and transparent, then place on top of the chimney (where you want the smoke to come out).

Next, duplicate the slide and on this new slide, delete the “seeds” on the chimney.  Then, vectorize the word TEXT (by writing it in a text box, putting it on top of a colored rectangle, selecting both objects and going to Merge Shapes – Fragment and deleting the stuff around TEXT).

Finally, add a Morph transition to the second slide, and you’re done!

Simply view in presentation mode and prepare for your jaw to drop… check out this trick with more details and examples here.


Lia (aka P-Spice) is the queen of PowerPoint animations and tricks. She hosts the most popular YouTube channel on PowerPoint, with over 4 million views and 36,000+ subscribers. She is also the author of the Spicy Presentations blog.

  1. Convert text to an image if the custom font might not be installed.

One of my favorite frustration-busters involves a workaround when I know my client won’t have a custom font installed.

For example, if the slide would benefit from a gorgeous script as an accent element, I will turn that piece of text into an image.

I do this by selecting the font as an object, copying it and then pasting it as a picture (either right click to paste or use the paste button in the Home menu).

Now I know the “text” will display as designed on any computer.

Lori Chollar is the Co-Founder of TLC Creative Services, Inc.

PowerPoint Presentation Delivery Tips
  1. Use the notes panel for detailed printed notes

I’m a College Professor and use PowerPoint for Lecture notes.

Many students want detailed lecture notes, but get bored quickly reading mountains of text on a slide.

So, I use the “Notes Pages” panel for detail while keeping the slides simple – I urge students to read the notes which may contain more information than given in a lecture.

If printing out the slides, it is essential to use “Notes Pages” print layout option.

Dr. Eugene O’Loughlin is a Lecturer in Computing at the National College of Ireland. He also hosts one of the most popular YouTube channels that covers PowerPoint topics and has over 12 million views and 26k+ subscribers.

  1. Leverage “Presenter View” and “sections” when there are multiple presenters

Increase the power of Presenter View with PowerPoint Sections.

Sections are used to organize slides within a presentation by grouping slides and giving each group a name.

In addition, Presenter View leverages these Sections that can be seen in Presenter View’s Grid Layout.

When running a presentation with multiple presenters, or an awards show with multiple award categories, I add lots of PowerPoint sections. The ability to minimize live-show stress and find the correct section to jump to is amazing!

Troy Chollar is the Co-Founder of TLC Creative Services, Inc. He is also a Microsoft designated PowerPoint MVP, PowerPoint blogger, and host the popular Presentation Podcast.

  1. Use “triggers” to create interactive presentations

Create interactive presentations with triggers to start animations through hot spots on a slide.

You can reveal specific parts of a diagram, make something change color by clicking it, or give people multiple choice questions and have the correct answer pop-up.

It takes seconds to do and works brilliantly, particularly with visual slides.

Right click on any animation, choose Timing, then Triggers in the pop-up window, and choose which object you click to start (trigger) the animation.

You can have multiple triggers on one slide and multiple animations triggered by the same object.

It makes compelling and effective presentations.

Richard Goring is the Director at BrightCarbon. He creates compelling and persuasive presentations using visuals and diagrams. Richard also blogs at the Bright Carbon blog and has a post on this trigger technique mentioned above.

  1. Use a formatted “Notes” page for presentation handouts.

I open the most eyes when I discuss how to use the Notes page to create handouts that are contained within the same PPTX file as the slides.

Most people have never spent even a second in the Notes master so they never knew you could globally reformat the Notes pages to allow them to better accommodate the creation of handout pages.

Rick Altman is the Director of R. Altman and Associates and the Conference Host of The Presentation Summit. If you looking to create PowerPoints that don’t suck, he literally wrote the book on it.

PowerPoint software and hardware setup tips
  1. Add “align” to your Quick Access Toolbar

Tired of eyeballing that slide to see if all the objects are all even or in the same grid? That is why my favorite tip is to make Align one of your favorites on your QAT.

Imagine a slide that might introduce three speakers’ headshots and captions but they are not aligned or equidistant from each other. Let’s fix it.

Select all three objects – click on the first object, then press and hold CTRL when you click on the others.  You can also use SHIFT and your mouse to draw a box over what you want to align – I call it a “Lasso”. To arrange the three headshots, click on the Format Tab in the Picture tools, you will see an option to align objects. You can choose to center objects horizontally, vertically or to a box of text.

You do the same when working with shapes, text boxes, SmartArt graphics, and WordArt by selecting Format in the Drawing Tools.

The result:  your objects snap to the grid and the smart guide lines that appear on your slide will help confirm it.

Sharyn Fitzpatrick is the Editor of PresentationXpert and the Chief Marketing and Webinar Guru at Marcom Gurus. She also lives in my home town (Los Altos), is a raving Penn State fan, and a former competitive swimmer!

  1. Customize your “quick access” toolbar with frequently used buttons

I don’t have a ton of keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint, but I do customize my toolbar.

When I do that (right-click on the toolbar at the very top of the window), I can add any button I want, especially the alignment buttons, which makes life a lot easier when you’re working with different slide objects such as text, images, and graphs.

In Excel, my favorite keyboard shortcut is CTRL+1 (CMD+1 on Macs), which will bring you to the Format menu. And it works for everything–cells, line charts, bar charts, axis labels, gridlines, whatever you need.

Jonathan Schwabish is the Founder at PolicyViz.com and a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute. He is well known in the presentation community for his presentation book Better Presentations and his expertise in data visualization.

  1. Name screen elements on the “Selection Pane” for easy design layering and more

The Selection Pane is one of PowerPoint’s best-kept secrets.

By default, it’s hidden in the “Select” menu on the “Home” tab.

I add it to my Quick Access Toolbar and keep the Selection Pane open anytime I’m working in PowerPoint.

Once open, you can name all the objects on the screen. This really helps when you’re trying to change the layering order of the objects, add animations, and more.

You can also hide objects by clicking the “eye” icon next to each object. That’s helpful for revealing objects beneath that layer.

Without the selection pane, both layering and animations are next to impossible.

Bryan Jones is the Founder and President of eLearningArt. He runs a stock photo and template site to help people build better presentations and graphics. He also blogs frequently about eLearning, PowerPoint, and presentations.

  1. In a dark working environment, change the default interface for more contrast

When I’m working in a dark environment (at night in my office, backstage at a conference, etc.), I find it extremely helpful to change PowerPoint’s interface from the bright white and orange to black or at least dark grey.

To do this, click File, then Account, then select Black or Dark Grey from the Office Theme drop-down.

Note that _these_ Office Themes control your interface elements such as the Ribbon and the workspace; they aren’t the same Office Themes that you may think of when we talk about PowerPoint templates and themes. (Thanks for naming everything the same, Microsoft!)

Echo Swinford is a PowerPoint Corporate Presentation and Template Expert at Echosvoice. She is designated as 1 of only 12 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States. Echo also authored a book on building PowerPoint templates and is the President of the Presentation Guild.

  1. Get a good external mouse. One with a scroll wheel can zoom in and out

A comfortable external mouse is a must-have for quick toolbar navigation and graphics editing.

Make your work even speedier by choosing a mouse with a scroll wheel. In PowerPoint, hold the Ctrl/Command key and scroll forward or backward to change the Zoom level. Go from the big picture to the smallest details in an instant.

Julie Terberg is a Presentation Expert, Visual Communicator at Terberg design. She is a designated Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, author of a book on creating PowerPoint templates, and is the Art Director for the Presentation Guild.

Think beyond PowerPoint presentations

  1. Think of PPT as a tool beyond liner presentations

Strangely enough, my best tip/hack is to start seeing PowerPoint as a tool that can do much more than linear presentations.

Here are a few examples:

1) Produce better visuals & handouts at the same time by moving text to the notes pane, and design your Notes Master so it has your corporate colors and logo

2) Use PowerPoint’s screen capture tool (PPT2010 and up), or screen recording tool (PPT2013 and up) to create quick tutorials without needing other software

3) Get to know the drawing/shape tools to create your custom graphics and save them as images.

Chantal Bossé is the Owner of CHABOS, Inc. where she helps clients, such as TEDx speakers, maximize their presentation impact. She is also a designated Microsoft PowerPoint MVP.

  1. Export to video and PDF to make content portable and reach a wider audience.

Exporting to video and PDF is a quick and easy way to make your content much more portable and mobile-friendly to reach a wider audience.

The PDF option allows you to totally rethink your documents and make the switch to interactive “e-books”.

The video option gives you a super flexible MP4 video file that you can use virtually anywhere.

To see an example of each, visit this tutorial.

Mike Taylor is a Learning Technologist at Mindset Digital, as well as a former Community Manager at Articulate He is also a frequent speaker and popular blogger.

  1. Hyperlink between slides to create a non-linear experience

Hyperlinking: Many who build eLearning with PowerPoint rely too much on the default linear slide 1- slide 2 -next-next-next setup.

Learning to hyperlink across slide decks enables you to build interesting interactions like branching simulations and quizzes with scaffolded feedback.

It takes patience and thinking through but isn’t technically difficult.

Another tip: Figure out how to do the planning/layout the way that works best for you: I like to use Post-It notes I can move around. Others like to draw it out, and still others use the PPT flowcharting tools.

Jane Bozarth is an E-Learning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina. She is the author of several popular books, including Better Than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging e-Learning with PowerPoint.

  1. Build clickable prototypes and hyperlink from any object to other slides

Creating prototypes is tough, right? Difficult software, expensive too.

But wait…

Do you realize that PowerPoint can be used to build prototypes?

One of the coolest and simplest features that you’ll find in PowerPoint is the ability to put hyperlinks on any object on your slide and have it link to other slides.

This way you can mock up any kind of e-learning, interactive job aid, software simulation or app you’d like and get a real feel of how it would work. Just create the screens you need for your prototype, add clickable areas (transparent shapes are great for that!) and voila!

Jeff Kortenbosch is a Performance Consultant at Bright Alley. He’s a PowerPoint guru and has a series of YouTube videos where he teaches users how to draw in PowerPoint.

29 PowerPoint Tips, Tricks, and Hacks Summarized

PowerPoint Presentation Approach Tips

  • Use the Tell ‘n Show method: a headline with a single point and media to support it | Ellen Finkelstein
  • Don’t open PPT until you have a clear message | Geetesh Bajaj
  • Start with the end-scenario in mind | Tom Howell
  • Tease the audience by revealing info in parts | Ramgopal
  • Don’t open PowerPoint first. Instead, sketch on a notepad | Doug Thomas

PowerPoint Design Tips

  • Use transparent overlays on images for text contrast | Andrzej Pach
  • Go big with visuals. Bleed photos and videos to the edge | Tony Ramos
  • Create quick native PPT icons using your subtract and combine tool. | Bethany Auck
  • Structure clean layouts by using a grid system on slide master. | Stephy Lewis
  • Find a beautiful, fresh font pair. One for headers and one for bod. | One Skill
  • Create an arrow with broken SmartArt | Sandra Johnson

PowerPoint Shortcuts, Tricks, and Hacks

  • Power-crop photos with SmartArt | Taylor Croonquist
  • Use Ctrl + arrow keys to nudge objects on the screen | AJ Walther
  • Use SmartArt to break bullet points into text boxes | Nolan Haims
  • Create “smoky letters” with PPT’s new Morph transition | Lia (P-Spice)
  • Convert text to an image if the custom font might not be installed | Lori Chollar

PowerPoint Presentation Delivery Tips

  • Use the notes panel for detailed printed notes | Dr Eugene O’Loughlin
  • Leverage “Presenter View” and “sections” when there are multiple presenters | Troy Chollar
  • Use “triggers” to create interactive presentations | Richard Goring
  • Use a formatted “Notes” page for presentation handout.  | Rick Altman

PowerPoint Software and Hardware Setup Tips

  • Add “align” to your Quick Access Toolbar | Sharyn Fitzpatrick
  • Customize your “quick access” toolbar with frequently used buttons | Jon Schwabish
  • Name screen elements on the “Selection Pane” for easy design layering and more | Bryan Jones
  • In a dark working environment, change the default interface for more contrast | Echo Swinford
  • Get a good external mouse. One with a scroll wheel can zoom in and out | Julie Terberg

Think Beyond PowerPoint Presentations

  • Think of PPT as a tool beyond liner presentations | Chantal Bossé
  • Export to video and PDF to make content portable and reach a wider audience | Mike Taylor
  • Hyperlink between slides to create a non-linear experience | Jane Bozarth
  • Build clickable prototypes and hyperlink from any object to other slides | Jeff Kortenbosch

This article was written by Bryan Jones and originally appeared on the eLearningArt blog, where you can get a free eBook of all 29 expert PowerPoint tips + additional bonus tips. You can also get some free PowerPoint images, graphics, and templates.



[Video] Dishing on Presentations with Peter Arvai, Prezi’s Co-founder and CEO

In this month’s “Dishing on Presentations”, PXpert editor, Sharyn Fitzpatrick chatted with Prezi’s co-founder and CEO, Peter Arvai while he was on vacation in Sweden, visiting the farm he grew up on. It is timely that we spoke with Peter because Prezi has been in the news quite a bit over the last few weeks. We talked about how Prezi Next was created with feedback from their 85M users, the thoughtful acquisition of Infogram and how it fits into their product roadmap, the presentation industry and the role of cognitive thinking, and the Harvard study results. We hope that this is the first of many conversations we have with Peter. His passion and deep thinking about the medium comes through – he is an engaging speaker. To learn more about Prezi, go to Prezi.com.


What Wins When Giving Presentations: The Slides or the Speaker?

Earlier this year, Pulse Design Studio was chosen as 1 of 12 design companies to ‘pitch’ to a group of local decision makers responsible for hiring talent for their creative business needs. The event was held at dPOP! at the Chrysler House in Detroit, sponsored by several well-known organizations including Pure Michigan Business Connect, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Michigan Film and Digital Media Office, and the Detroit Crain Content Studio.

Each company presenting was given a total of 3:00 minutes to pitch, utilizing no more than 10 PowerPoint slides. For a presentation company like ourselves, this was the chance to put our talents to the test.

What I found interesting about the event, was the buzz amongst the audience after all the presentations were given. The universal question people were pondering was when it comes to giving a presentation, what’s more effective? Is it the slides or is it the speaker?

This honestly wasn’t the first time I had heard this dilemma. It’s a common question I get asked all the time no matter what size presentation or event I’m helping a client prepare for. It’s like tug of war, in which one side seems determined to win, but no one actually does.

My answer boils down to this- it’s neither the slides or the speaker. It’s the story. This is the primary and universal foundation that will engage and resonate with your audience far beyond anything else. But what exactly does that mean?

During our presentation, we included a slide to speak to this universal truth:

Understanding your story, and how to connect that with your audience is becoming an invaluable element for any presentation these days. Why? Here are three key reasons driving this truth:

  1. Time. Our time is getting increasingly limited (as in our 3:00-minute example) to engage with one another. Having an hour or more to pitch a product or an idea is going to be a thing of the past.
  2. Competition. The number of businesses on the landscape compared to 10 years ago has grown and will continue to grow. Digital online marketplaces and growing technologies will add more and more pressure on companies to stand out, and compete with one another.
  3. Decision Makers. Engaging with key decision makers is no longer about being together in the boardroom. Connecting with your audience across time zones and the increase of file sharing will continue to impact how engaging and stand-alone your presentation should be.

Following the event, an article got published by Daniel Duggan, a Crain’s Detroit Business editor who said, “…I asked a few people, informally, afterward about what pitches they liked best. The ones that rose to the top were those who were talking more about the big picture and making the pitch more about telling a story.”

So, next time you find yourself in the position to craft a presentation, start with what your ‘story’ is, rather than what the copy or graphics should be. You’ll find yourself delivering a much more effective presentation to your audience, and most importantly one that they’ll tend to remember the most.

About Tany Nagy:

With over 18 years of design experience and a Masters in Architecture, Tany Nagy transformed using her design skills from blueprints to presentations when she founded Pulse Design Studio in 2008. Her love for presenting stories as state-of-the-art communication materials launched Pulse into becoming a quickly recognized and sought after presentation design agency on a national and global scale. As creative director at Pulse, she has created hundreds of award-winning and dynamic presentations, from keynotes to pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading healthcare organizations and funded start-ups. Her passion

With over 18 years of design experience and a Masters in Architecture, Tany Nagy transformed using her design skills from blueprints to presentations when she founded Pulse Design Studio in 2008. Her love for presenting stories as state-of-the-art communication materials launched Pulse into becoming a quickly recognized and sought after presentation design agency on a national and global scale. As creative director at Pulse, she has created hundreds of award-winning and dynamic presentations, from keynotes to pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading healthcare organizations and funded start-ups. Her passion for pushing the boundaries on developing latest techniques and solutions drive her creativity to bring the very best in the industry to her clients. As an educator, she has been a featured speaker at several events in the Detroit area focusing on the evolution of presentations in today’s marketplace and digital landscape. You can reach her directly at her email: tany@pulsedesignstudio.com or by visiting her website.

Picturing Your Audience in Their Underwear—That’s a Stupid Strategy

After my podcast show on overcoming the fear of public speaking, I was curious how many people still think that it is a good idea to picture their audience in their underwear.

So I asked a question to find out if people already knew that there are better ways to overcome their number one fear. Man, I was dead wrong. I got comments about picturing the audience members as watermelons, pandas, and, of course, in their underwear. You’ve got to be kidding me! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of cool underwear. I got dozens of them, but I don’t think this is something you want to have a mental picture of when speaking in front of an audience.

Here’s the deal. What if you, like many speakers (including me), feel more nervous and embarrassed to picture the audience half-naked? Is there a more effective solution? Oh yes! The reason most people fail to overcome their fear of public speaking is that they are not willing to do the quick and dirty work. Because of this, many of us struggle for the rest of their lives.

The Illusion of Picturing Your Audience in Their Underwear

There is a difference between picturing and fantasizing. If you imagine your audience taking all their clothes off and remaining only in their underwear smiling at you, that is not picturing; that is fantasizing. Don’t do it in front of your audience. That’s not the kind of picturing that gets over your public speaking anxiety.

A Better Way to Picture Your Audience

Picture that you are talking to your friends in the living room; you share interesting life stories and see your friends enjoying every moment of your speaking. They applaud and say, “You’re amazing!” How do you feel? I don’t feel nervous. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel confident. I feel relaxed. I feel comfortable.

Next time when you feel nervous about speaking in front of an audience, picture your audience as your friends:

  1. You are sharing a life-changing message with them.
  2. Your focus on helping the audience improve their lives.
  3. You are having a conversation with them. With this transformational mindset, you will overcome the fear of public speaking and build your confidence quickly.

Now, it’s time to paint a new mental picture. This time, get your audience fully dressed. Picture your audience as your friends, and watch yourself speaking with confidence.


About Jonathan Li

Public Speaking Coach and Author, Jonathan Li helps online entrepreneurs overcome the fear of public speaking. He is the host of The Expressive Leader, a weekly podcast that interviews successful entrepreneurs including Chris Brogan and Nancy Duarte. He believes every online entrepreneur can overcome the fear of public speaking. In his book, The Expressive Leader, he discusses how to deliver your message effectively, confidently, and have the impact you want on the audience. Want to see Jonathan in action – then watch his speech as a TEDx speaker.

You can receive effective and powerful public speaking training from Jonathan at http://TheExpressiveLeader.com.


Harnessing the Power to be a Memorable Public Speaker

How many of us remember the great speeches or presentations? I know I have a few favorites. It is not just the content I remember but the power of the presentation and how it was delivered that makes it memorable or not.

Recently, I overheard a man referring to a speech he’d heard a few weeks earlier. “I can’t remember anything of the actual speech – but I can recall the story.” It’s a remark that only reinforces what I have known for years: apart from a personal experience – nothing sticks in our minds more than a story. There is something almost tangible when a series of visuals images arise in our minds at the prompting of an oral storyteller. Imaginary visual images stay with us long after facts and figures and even appeals to our emotions have faded into oblivion.

For example, in the 1980s I presented a particular story to a ladies group. Twenty years later I was on the telephone to this same woman – whom I had long ago forgotten – who was once again seeking a speaker, this time for a Probus Club she belonged to. She didn’t remember my name either. But after a few minutes on the phone, it became clear to this lady, now quite elderly, that she had heard me speak before. “Oh, you’re the man who told us that story about the seals and things on Macquarie Island. I remember that story.” “I remember that story.” And so we do.

In another example which goes back even further in time, in the 1990’s I was asked to present a Christmas Story to a Toastmaster Club. I thought, “Well, I don’t think I know any….wait a minute!” And it came flooding back to me after half a century. “The Fourth King.” It was a great Christmas story, and I’d only heard it once before. It was told to me when I was a little boy in Primary School in London, England around 1946. Fifty years had gone by and I still remembered it! That is the power of story!

For the public speaker who truly wants his or her presentation to be remembered, put in at least one really interesting and reasonably lengthy story; something that can be visualized in the mind of your audience and, chances are, your story too will be remembered long, long afterward. What better recommendation can a speaker get?

What is it that creates our individual styles as speakers? Why do we develop as we do? It seems that some of us are naturally gifted whilst others find it tough to become really competent and effective. It’s more than an innate confidence. Some of those who come into Toastmasters brimming with confidence – and there aren’t many of them – improve only marginally over the years, whilst others, almost painfully inhibited and shy, rise to become speakers well above the average.

Is it formal education that does it? Is it natural intelligence? Is it something indefinable but sensed by the speaker in himself or herself? Or maybe it’s the encouragement or discouragement received in their earlier or first few Toastmaster club encounters. As asked earlier – why do we develop the way we do?

What are the seeming intangibles that make one speaker present in an interesting, riveting way whilst another finds it hard to keep an audience’s attention? Is it the words spoken? Is it the body language and eye contact? Is it a combination of the two? Or are these more noticeable attributes of a speaker portraying a ‘something’ which comes deeper down in one person than that of another? Is it a matter of ‘heart’ rather than mind, soul rather than intellect?

Some speakers have a propensity for presenting the right words in the right order. Some find that alliteration and the combining of ideas into the ‘magic, one, two, three’ falls naturally to them. Others can’t do this without rehearsal and, even then, it comes across as false, not their genuine selves doing the speaking.

Could it be the books, the novels, poetry, essays consumed and filed away into the minds of the speaker over long years of reading? Certainly, we pick up words and phrases and ways of presenting this way. Some speakers have a good speaking vocabulary, others not. I suspect it comes from the volume and type of reading – and possibly writing – done down the years.

Still, others have a veritable dictionary of long-sounding and exact word usage that should ‘hit the spot’ but fails to do so because, to the listener in the audience, it’s almost as if the speaker were deliberately parading their language for our admiration. It comes across as too perfect. Very educated people who have studied in certain areas of the Arts, but have little Life experience, can come across this way.

As a long time speaker who has heard hundreds speak, it becomes clear to me that the best speakers have read widely, do feel passionate about their subject, have a wide background from which they can unselfconsciously extract words and terminology without sounding that what they’re saying is contrived, and who are able to place pictures in the minds of their listeners.

This reminds me of something that Syd Field, the Dion of script writing for movies, in his book, Screen Play – The Foundations of Screen Writing. He was a Hollywood legend and his book is a masterpiece on how to write a good film script. In the introduction of this book, Syd writes, “A screenplay, I soon realized, is a story told in pictures.” Oral storytelling is also like that, except that the pictures are not shown on a screen in a cinema. They’re seen on the screens of the audience’s mind.

Action seen on the ‘silver screen’ is largely a passive occurrence. The audience views the pictures and listens to the dialogue and sometimes, to a lesser extent, the narration of a voice describing what is happening. In oral storytelling, the audience takes a more active part, their minds evoke the pictures they see, albeit clearly or not so clearly, by the words put to them by the storyteller.

There is quite a bit of similarity between a storyteller and a public speaker presenting a speech. In both, the story or speech is the thing; the presenter is simply how the story or message is imparted. The good presenter of either of these genres should, if they’re doing their job right, be hardly noticed. They disappear, so to speak, and the minds of the audience are moved by what is being conveyed. The body language and eye contact of the storyteller or speaker, the pitch, pace, pause, the vocal variety and nuances of meaning are noticed but noticed by a part of the recipient as non-intrusive. If the storyteller or public speaker is doing it right there will be little or no conscious evaluation of how it is being presented. The audience will be lost in the content of what is being portrayed.

Public speaking is both a craft and an art. The craft is the content: the knowledge, the memories on which one can draw: the art is the unconscious presenting of the words in the right sequence, the delivery, including voice variation, pitch, pace, pause, eye contact and body language. The craft is garnered through our life experiences, the art through our continuing practice. So if we are to become the best speakers we can be in this lifetime we need to look at both the art and the craft. It needs to be a lifetime work. It is something we should never ever give up.

So, if you wish to be the best speaker you can be, look these aspects of speaking and keep on keeping on. You never know…you could end up being one of the top speakers in the entire world. Be memorable for the right reasons with the right content and the right delivery.

Get outside and speak! Work out what is required by way of the speeches that are acceptable to outside audiences. Mostly, they like to be entertained. This includes not only subject matter but the length of time. Five to seven minute or even twelve to fourteen-minute speeches are, as a general rule, not long enough for your outside audience. So work on a thirty, forty or even fifty-minute presentation. Then find your audiences – deliberately put in plural because you’ll present that presentation more than once – and get out there and speak!

In likelihood you will succeed and, as it has been said many times, ‘Nothing succeeds like success.’ Before you know it you’ll be speaking to many different types of audiences, putting together new presentations, growing and enjoying a newfound confidence in speaking. So why not do it? Nothing is holding you back. Go for it!

Arthur Thomas (Tom) Ware DTM
He is an international public speaker a Distguinished Toastmaster. The Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award represents the highest level of educational achievement in Toastmasters. Based in Australia, Tom shares his expertise and knowledge with others in his field including how to be a better public speaker.

[Webinar Recording] Marvelous Makeovers: Presentations Edition with Rick Altman

Fan Favorite, Marvelous Makeovers: Presentations Edition is back!

Watch Rick Altman transform ugly slides provided by our subscribers into marvelous makeovers. Did you know that makeover seminars are the most popular of all at the Presentation Summit, the annual conference for the industry, but what exactly is a makeover? Is it just the prettying up of a bad slide? In fact, there are many forms of makeovers, and they are all on display during recorded webinar. Watch it now to find out what magic Rick will pull out of his hat to make “Marvelous” slides.

If you’re a golfer, your favorite word is “mulligan.” That’s when you hit a dreadful shot, usually into a forest or a lake, and you drop the second ball at your feet and essentially proclaim, “that one didn’t count.” You then hit again and go on your merry way, a happier camper for it.

In PowerPoint parlance, our mulligan is the makeover – that fantastic and fantastical opportunity to press Pause and create an alternate reality. That horrible slide with eight long-winded bullets and a postage-stamp photo? No, you didn’t really mean to do that; that doesn’t count. Take a mulligan! Here’s a do-over.

Makeover seminars are the most popular of all at the Presentation Summit, the annual conference for the industry, but what exactly is a makeover? Is it just the prettying up of a bad slide? In fact, there are many forms of makeovers, and they are all on display in this hour:

Message: Well-intended content creators often lose sight of the story they mean to tell.

Structure: If the foundation of your presentation is flawed (like trying to create slides that serve as visuals and as handouts), you will be swimming upstream the whole time.

Slide design: The classic case of “who created this sludge and how can we fix it?”

PowerPoint technique: Most users of the software are undertrained and rarely go below the surface of PowerPoint’s feature set. That can have a profound effect on how they build their slides.

Delivery: A well-designed presentation both relies on and encourages presenters to be at the top of their games.

You can download the handout here.
About our speaker:

Rick Altman has been hired by hundreds of companies, listened to by tens of thousands of professionals, and read by millions of people, all of whom seek better results with their presentation content and delivery. He covers the whole of the industry, from message crafting, through presentation design, slide creation, software technique, and delivery. He is the host of the Presentation Summit, the preeminent learning event for the community, attended by an international audience of 200 since 2003.He would have traded it all in for a career on the professional tennis tour. He wasn’t good enough, though — all of this was his Plan B…

Font Talk: What the Font is it Anyway?

With all the social sharing within this community, it seems like we have a “virtual water cooler” trend going around and often that is where the best ideas and discussions happen. The “Font Talk” topic was started in a Facebook post by the Presentation Guild’s Stephy Lewis who was trying to find an app or program that could help her match or identify fonts sent to her and then automatically suggest a safe font equivalent. So, “what the font is it anyway“?

Take a recent post on Facebook by Stephy Lewis, a Presentation Guild director and a very talented creative mind, where she wanted a font matcher like the one she linked to but she wanted it to give her the closest PPT safe font. What a great idea! Is magic happening? Not likely.

Stephy’s post highlights a common problem we all face in creating designs whether it is in PowerPoint or any other product. Often, we get creative from a client or a speaker and we don’t know what font they use. It happens all the time. The good news is that there are a few apps and websites that give you the tools to figure out what the font is. But telling you that it is safe to use with PowerPoint -not happening.

So, what is the process to at least point you in the right direction? You just upload the font image you are trying to identify and it processes it, hopefully giving you the font used. I tried it with both The Font Matcherator and What’s my Font, another service suggested by one of Stephy’s contacts.

The Font Matcherator by FontSpring

The Font Matcherator has a very clear and easy interface. It is simple – first, upload an image.

I uploaded the transparent PXpert logo –

And the transparent logo on a dark background

Both came back asking me what text I wanted to match. I wanted to match each letter in “presentationxpert”.

Then you “matcherate” it. Both versions came back without the “i” included in the “matched” font. I discovered that you might have to manually adjust the shapes that the matcherator can find and it guesses the glyphs that match these shapes. So, in our example, the line without the dot above that says “I” was one option and the “.” was a second separate option. I chose the advanced option and could combine them into one letter, not two pieces. Ironically, that didn’t change the fonts that were suggested.

Let’s see what happens if we try it without combining the line and the dot that make the lower case “ i “.

First, I got different fonts for the transparent logo and the logo on black background – only two of the font families matched: Delicious Type’s Zosimo Series and Dalle by Stawix. So what happens if I manually combine the dot and the line to identify the “ i “ as a letter. This is a great option for it could influence your final selection.

The results: the lists are more similar and some of the unique fonts such as Managerica Pro and K-Line which were on one list and not the other disappear or are further down on the list. This helps you make a good choice for what font this logo might be. Let’s say you select Dalle by Stawix as the closest match. Well, that’s the bad news -open your wallet because it will cost you $299 to buy this font!

“What the Font” by My Fonts.com

They have a similar process to FontSprings Matcherator. They hated the “i” as well. And they added a “t”. And when I uploaded the transparent logo, it gave it a black background automatically.

And guess what, none of the fonts identified by the Matcherator are listed in the MyFonts list.

But when I clicked on each of the five font families, only three were available. The others had a message saying they were not found and when I searched, I didn’t have any luck either.

The good news is that the ones I found were under $150. The bad news – none of them was a match for the logo.

Safe Fonts for PowerPoint

This still doesn’t solve the question so what do you do. First, try and choose a font that is on the safe font list for whatever version of PowerPoint you are using. So where do you find the safe fonts?

My go-to source has been my well-used Building PowerPoint Templates: Step-by-Step with the Experts book written by two amazing women and PowerPoint MVPs, Echo Swinford and Julie Terberg. They include a list of fonts in Chapter 3, Getting Started: Set up a Theme – on page 44. It is a great book and a must have for anyone in this industry.

If you are smart enough to be a member of the Presentation Guild, Julie and Echo just posted an updated list in the Members Only area. Membership is only $99 a year and worth every penny! I am proud to say I have been a member since 2015 when it started. They have a great members’ only area with resources, outreach to the community for those tough questions, members-only webinars and events, and so much more.  Join today.  It is a great investment in YOU!

Another option is to subscribe to Indezine, an amazing publication from Microsoft MVP, Geetesh Bajaj. He is a wealth of knowledge on everything about presentations. He wrote a great article in late 2016 that includes a list of safe fonts. Click here to read it.  What I love about Geetesh is his passion for sharing his knowledge with the industry whether it is in a book, in an article, or in an app he shares with us. Bookmark his site and sign up for his free newsletter. It is a great read and full of actionable tips and tricks that will help you become a better presenter and slide designer. 

So, back to Stephy’s original conundrum, how do we identify a font we don’t know and then find a safe font to replace it? Magic? Maybe the “Aparecium” or revealing charm that Hermoine used unsuccessfully in the Harry Potter books to make invisible writing visible. Or maybe a transformation charm. One can hope. Till then, I will keep practicing with my wand, thanks to a trip to Ollivanders™ Wand Shop in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

[Video] Dishing on Presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Chantal Bossé

This month, I talked to Microsoft PowerPoint MVP, Chantal Bossé of Chabos in Canada about a project she did for Destination Canada. The project involved working with eleven speakers from around the world on their presentation content and their presentation skills.  This meant finding images that best represented their country and the people found in each country as well as culturally appropriate messaging and images.  Luckily, the client had a huge photo library with hi-res images that proved invaluable. Imagine, adding to the complexity of this project by having to present on a moving circular stage.  It was a huge project to complete in a short amount of time but well worth the experience, according to Chantal, president of Chabos, a visual communication company based in Canada.

You can reach Chantal Bossé via her website or her email.

Make Complex Graphics Easy to Understand (Part 2 of 2)

Rendering complex slides or graphics in PowerPoint can be challenging. In my previous article (Part 1), we learned how to conceptualize (visualize) complex content using three methods:

  1. Get to the Point
  2. Chunk It
  3. Connect the Dots

Now it’s time to turn this concept …

… into this final slide.


The following three steps show how I rendered this graphic.

Step 1: Template

Access your Slide Master by going to your View tab and selecting Slide Master. Within Slide Master, I created this template layout using basic shapes and lines.

When possible, insert your logo as vector art because it is resolution independent and you can scale it without losing quality when printed or projected. I recommend these vector file types: EMF, WMF, and SVG (for the latest version of PowerPoint).

Step 2: Peg Blocks

To make the Peg blocks, follow these step-by-step instructions.

Download this PowerPoint tutorial: http://www.billiondollargraphics.com/Shapes_MikeParkinson.pptx.

Alternatively, you can add depth using PowerPoint 3-D effects. For this exercise, I manually added the 3-D effects to give me optimal control over color and angles.

Duplicate the left peg block then select Flip Vertical to create the right block. To make the center block, remove the connectors and draw a Trapezoid shape for the bottom (to give it the 3-D effect with the proper perspective).

Step 3: Icons

Use the following step-by-step instructions to make the Lower Cost, Speed Delivery, and Lower Risk symbols.

Download this PowerPoint tutorial: http://www.billiondollargraphics.com/Shapes_MikeParkinson.pptx.

The remaining elements are standard PowerPoint shapes and text blocks. For the arrow, draw an Up Arrow (under Insert/Shapes). Use the Reshape node to transform the traditional arrow shape into one without an arrowhead. Apply the color or gradient of your choice.

Finally, add supporting shapes (e.g., nested rectangles) and text as needed. To add text, go to the Home tab and select the Text box tool to draw one on your slide. Enter your text then scale and position it for optimal legibility.

Clear, compelling communication is a critical success factor in any presentation. Use the three methods—Get to the Point, Chunk It, and Connect the Dots—along with these rendering techniques to improve the quality of your content and aesthetics. When you do, future graphics will be easy to understand and more impactful.

Download a copy of the PowerPoint tutorials here: http://www.billiondollargraphics.com/Shapes_MikeParkinson.pptx.

Mike Parkinson (Microsoft MVP and APMP Fellow) is an internationally recognized visual communication and presentation expert, professional speaker, and award-winning author. Mike is one of 16 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States. He regularly conducts workshops and creates graphics, presentations, and learning materials for companies like Microsoft, FedEx, Xerox, Dell, and Boeing as well as at learning institutions and organizations.

Mike owns both 24 Hour Company (24hrco.com) and Billion Dollar Graphics (BillionDollarGraphics.com). He authored a popular Do-It-Yourself Billion Dollar Graphics book and is completing his latest book on PowerPoint for Educators. You can reach Mike at mike@billiondollargraphics.com.




rofessional speaker, and award-winning author. Mike is one of 16 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States. He regularly conducts workshops and creates graphics, presentations, and learning materials for companies like Microsoft, FedEx, Xerox, Dell, and Boeing as well as at learning institutions and organizations.


Mike owns both 24 Hour Company (24hrco.com) and Billion Dollar Graphics (BillionDollarGraphics.com). He authored a popular Do-It-Yourself Billion Dollar Graphics book and is completing his latest book on PowerPoint for educators. Contact Mike at mike@billiondollargraphics.com now to learn more about how he can help you hit your goals.





Make Complex Graphics Easy to Understand (Part 1 of 2)

Most complex presentations do not need complex graphics. Clear, easy-to-follow content improves understanding, recollection, and adoption. The KISS—Keep It Simple Silly—rule applies to all forms of communication.

However, there are times when illustrating complexity is required. For example, you may want to show that the information or solution you are presenting is complex and, therefore, requires specific experience or expertise to complete. For other presentations, you may have a mixed audience of technical and strategic thinkers.

A complex solution does not need to be confusing. It should be clear, concise, organized, ordered, and easy to understand. Albert Einstein once stated, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Because the confused mind says no, a complex graphic must quickly and clearly communicate the main point (the message). It is our job as presentation professionals to help the audience understand the content.

The following are three methods I use when making a complex slide graphic:
1. Get to the Point
2. Chunk It
3. Connect the Dots

Get to the Point

Summarize your graphic with one, concise message (i.e., headline or takeaway). The main point should be obvious. It should give your audience a reason to care. Provide them with a benefit. Make them want to spend time reviewing your graphic. If the main message is that your solution saves money, speeds delivery and lowers risk, the graphic should clearly show this. It must be blindingly obvious. Never bury the main point. Highlight it through aesthetic choices such as icons, symbols, size, style, color, and positioning.

Chunk It
Chunking breaks complex content into bite-sized, digestible morsels. Group and label similar elements to avoid confusion. For example, arrange your approach into a timeline. Drawing a box around each phase chunks those activities and clarifies when they occur, making the content more approachable. (You are grouping solution elements into labeled “buckets” of information.)

The reason most complex graphics fail is because they are created by the author for the author. They apply their knowledge of the subject to make assumptions about the audience’s proficiency—and often these assumptions are wrong. Instead, see it from your audience’s perspective and how they relate to the subject. Group your content hierarchically. Use labels and titles to categorize similar elements.

Connect the Dots

Prove that you can deliver to the audience your stated benefit by connecting the solution elements to the promised outcomes. For example, use symbols to flag those tools, people, or processes (solution elements) that are responsible for delivering the results (e.g., saving money, speedy delivery and/or lowering risk).

I recommend sketching your ideas before rendering a graphic. Sketches increase objectivity when evaluating your message and method for communicating it because simple drawings are judged more on content than appearance. Rendered graphics are judged by aesthetics before the associated message and method

The following sketch is an example of how I used these three methods to showcase a benefit to my audience.

After your concept is approved, render your graphic in your tool of choice. The following slide was created in PowerPoint. (In my next article, I will share how I made this graphic.)

Clear, compelling communication is a critical success factor. The three methods—Get to the Point, Chunk It, and Connect the Dots—work together to improve communication quality and your win rate. Use them when creating your next complex graphic to deliver a better presentation.

About Mike Parkinson (Microsoft MVP and APMP Fellow):

He is an internationally recognized visual communication and presentation expert, professional speaker, and award-winning author. Mike is one of 16 Microsoft PowerPoint MVPs in the United States. He regularly conducts workshops and creates graphics, presentations, and learning materials for companies like Microsoft, FedEx, Xerox, Dell, and Boeing as well as at learning institutions and organizations.

Mike owns both 24 Hour Company (24hrco.com) and Billion Dollar Graphics (BillionDollarGraphics.com). He authored a popular Do-It-Yourself Billion Dollar Graphics book and is completing his latest book on PowerPoint for educators. Contact Mike at mike@billiondollargraphics.com now to learn more about how he can help you hit your goals.

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